It appears that nose tackle Aubrayo Franklin isn't out of the 49ers plans just yet. According to a tweet from Adam Schefter, Franklin was arriving back in the Bay Area last night to meet with the team. Franklin had a great 2009 and an above-average 2010 campaign, which he played on a franchise tag. Because his 2010 was a somewhat down year, the 49ers neglected to tag him a second time and he was expected to be one of the big ticket free agents.
That hasn't been the case, as it appears the 49ers will be his first visit. Their patient approach might net them Franklin at a discount price, but their impatient approach in regards to defensive end Ray McDonald, recently signed to a five-year, $20 million deal at the start of free agency, may hurt the chances of Franklin returning. The plan, at that point, was to slide Isaac Sopoaga over to nose tackle, while McDonald became the starter at left defensive end.
Bringing Franklin back, he'd surely be the starter at nose, and the 49ers would then have Sopoaga and McDonald both earning $4 million a year and one of them wouldn't be starting. Still, Franklin is a capable nose tackle and that would solidify the defensive line, something the team really needs to do with their weakened secondary.
One also has to consider the cap room the 49ers freed up by releasing cornerback Nate Clements. Most figured that the 49ers planned to spend big money on a big player with the cash cleared, but it seems like the big cornerbacks are all slipping away. The 49ers could then spend some of that money in other areas, like bringing back Dashon Goldson and, potentially, re-signing Aubrayo Franklin.